Friday, May 22, 2015

Knowing your triggers, but staying untriggered

I know what my triggers are:

  1. Too little sleep
  2. Too many carbs
  3. Lack of exercise
  4. High stress
  5. Lack of light (SAD)
I've had years and years to learn them. I am very self-aware. Always have been. However, knowing my triggers and staying untriggered are two different beasts to conquer. So, I'm trying to learn.

  1. Too little sleep.
Ok, this one I have a lot of control over and I "do" try to be good about knowing I need sleep and making sure I get good sleep. When I care. When I'm not being triggered by #s 2 and 4 and 5. The too little sleep things tends to reappear when other triggers are already triggered.

     2.  Too many carbs.

This one is a bit trickier. I am much better about controlling carbs when other triggers aren't triggered - it's true. My resolve to stay away from carbs goes way down when I am overtired, stressed and can't excercise, but it's usually, by itself and even with these triggers I can control. Where it seems I'm having a very hard time is when I am affected by #5 - SAD.  But when it is triggered by #5 I simply do not care what I eat PERIOD. And then starts the addiction I have a very hard time breaking. Like a REALLLY hard time come spring when SAD is no longer an issue.

     3. Lack of Exercise

This is probably my smallest trigger. Exercise is an appetite suppressant for me, so I just overall tend to be able to eat at a deficit more easily when I exercise. When I don't exercise and I'm closer to my ideal weight, I eat more for maintenance because creating a deficit when I'm feeling hungrier is harder. That isn't so true when I have a larger caloric base to whittle down from to lose weight. When I exercise, though, it also puts my head in a better space (fighting depression), so it will probably help with keeping other triggers untriggered, especially #5. However, I cannot exercise when I'm overtired - one of my injuries happened that way too and it actually gives into my head - I stay tired and I get grumpy and end up eating more.

    4. High stress

This is a weird trigger. I get more stressed by other triggers not being in place - lack of sleep (most especially) and lack of exercise. HOWEVER, I deal less well with stress when I'm dealing with SAD. Now in spring? I am dealing with it fine - not stuffing my face. I am making myself go to bed earlier and made myself go garden for hours when I could have given into the food demons.

    5.  Lack of light (SAD)

Notice what it all points to as THE trigger? Seasonal Affect Disorder.  Besides the ONE time when I was shocked into action by being so terribly unhealthy (bad cholesterol, scary high blood pressure, super bad, low thyroid, and uncontrollable restless legs) that made me jump into action in the "dark" months, EVERY OTHER TIME I've tried to lose weight it was during spring/summer - when my head was in a better place. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I've started to really lose control was in fall when it gets dark. This is not coincidental. Even the time I was shocked into action was when I made an appointment to see my doctor in October (so not "completely" dark yet) and had to wait until December to see him.  Count the times with me this pattern holds - lose in spring/summer, gain in fall/winter and lose control completely:

1. 1990
2. 1995
3. 1997
4. 2003
5. 2012
6. 2013
7. 2014
8. 2015 - starting to lose again and hope to break the PATTERN.

The times the pattern didn't hold:

1. 2010
2. 2011.*

So, I have tried to lose weight 9 other times in my 45 years - always starting in spring. I have always gained the weight back in the fall/winter/early spring in 7 of those 9 times and there is an apostrophe even with one of those years. 

*I did great in 2011. HOWEVER, I gave myself a month break in mid December 2011 into mid January 2012 over the month long holidays in our home and I gained like 20 pounds in that month (some of it glycogen water weight - but 15 pounds of it was NOT). AND it took a lot of willpower to get back with the program - other triggers were under control though - I was exercising. I was getting enough sleep and stress was pretty low. SAD and high carbs though about did me in even then. I clearly remember how hard that was that winter and it wasn't really until spring that I started to feel I was "back" and it became easier again.

So, it seems that keeping SAD untriggered is the key. The number one key! I can control my carbs, my exercise, my stress, my sleep so much better if I'm not affected by SAD.

I've tried the lamp (sort of), but I think I need to take the next step. I need to take antidepressants seasonally. The slip is so slow and so gradual that I don't even realize I've slipped until I've completely in the "I simply do not care about what I eat" mode.

Why SAD mostly affects me with self-care I don't know. My work usually doesn't suffer. My personal relationships don't really suffer (except with my family), but my mode of eating and exercise suffers terribly and then I have to pull myself off sugars to get back into healthy habits again. KEEPING with the sugars, keeps me in a suppressed, lazy, place.

So, calling all SAD people - what works for you? Have you tried antidepressants? Moving to the equator isn't going to be possible, so I have to learn to deal with the dark months!!! It is the trigger that I have less control about keeping untriggered, but I have to try to find a way!

Editing to add: Also, I am not eating to stuff my feelings in the "dark months". I think I use carbs as medicine, mood booster in the dark months. It fuels me in a way when the rest of me just wants to shut down. Much like having a sugar soda or caffeine or chocolate bar does in the middle of the night and you need an energy boost to keep going. I use it to keep slogging through the winter. I need to find an alternative to CARBS to boost my mood/energy level.

1 comment:

  1. Could Vitamin D help with SAD? I don't know much about it specifically, but Vitamin D is produced via natural sunlight and a lot of people are deficient. When my mom was a little sick (she doesn't have SAD though) she naturally felt inclined to sit outside for a bit and she felt better, and she was later prescribed high doses of Vitamin D tablets for a while.